Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Finest Eating Joint in Texas, Part 2

...We entered the restaurant in all its magnificence. Even though we had a reservation, our table wasn't yet ready, so we perused the extremely classy gift shop. Want your own longhorns for your Cadillac? They're $400 at The Big Texan gift shop. Want a Frisbee that looks like a cow paddy? Check! The visiting warehouse people were impressively captivated by the Texas-sized array o' crap.

And in case you might believe that the crap was confined to the gift shop, let's talk about the interior of the restaurant. Here's what a patron encounters as soon as s/he enters the building: The stuffed bear, the slot machines, the random flag-type stuff shoved in already cluttered areas, the ad for Elvis Impersonator Night--classy. And lest you think that Smoky the Bear was the only taxidermied beast in The Big Texan, think again. I think that they might even stuff anyone who takes the 72 ounce steak challenge and then suffers a terminal coronary in the process, at which point they preserve the dead glutton, prop him against a wall, and proceed to neglect dusting him for about twenty years. The place was covered in carcasses and the carcasses were covered in dust. That elk on the wall? That's not chin hair. That's a dust-covered cobweb. And because Valerie reserved a table upstairs looking down on the main floor, we were eye level with the corpse of Bambi's mom for most of our time in the restaurant. Did I mention that Gianna is a vegetarian? I don't think that The Big Texan's decorating choices swayed her from that path.

As we sat down, nine of us from the publisher present, with the two people from our account running late but expected to join us shortly, we ordered a smattering of appetizers--fried jalepenos, fried mushrooms, and potato skins with brisket on them--and our cowboy-dressed waiter, Trevor, took our drink orders. Chris, the bottomless stomach, ordered a 36 ounce beer, and most of the members of our table likewise ordered beer in large steins. I don't know their thinking, but I wouldn't have been surprised to discover that they were hoping that alcohol would distract them from the roadkill all over the walls. Brenda (the children's book rep) and Gianna were sitting on the far end of the table from Valerie, Brenda's boss Alan, and me, and the folks from our operations/warehouse staff plus the two empty chairs for our guests were in between. I found out later that Brenda ordered a margarita, it being the official cocktail of Texas. I was worried about triggering a migraine, having not slept for about four days and feeling a little loopy already, so I ordered a Diet Coke. Now, I understand that some restaurants stupidly accept the Pepsi incentives for carrying their products over Coke products, but here's the thing: Diet Pepsi is NEVER a suitable alternative to Diet Coke. I know that some people are polite and will settle for Diet Pepsi, but no one ever prefers Diet Pepsi to Diet Coke. And I am not one of those polite people. I suggested to Trevor that he send one of the limos to pick up some Diet Cokes from a convenience store and I'd wait, but I think Trevor knew that with a party of eleven his gratuity was included in the bill and he didn't seem willing to go the extra mile (literally) to help a junky out. I settled for water, and I think the restaurant itself gasped in disbelief that a diner wasn't choosing a beer that came in a mug that was twice the size of my fish bowl (I once kept a beta named Elvis Fauntleroy IV, until I acquired Zorro the cat and Zorro liked to drink Elvis's water). I don't think I fit in with the Big Texan mystique.

...Next, the meal, or, "Sorry we're out of (blank)."

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